So its cold Saturday night and we catch ferry across Manly to have a fun Saturday night out in Manly. I just love Manly: the waterfront views, the cool restaurants and the chilled “LAM” Northern Beachies that hang out there – it’s the perfect spot.
We are off to have dinner at Papi Chulo, a waterfront smokehouse and grill restaurant reminiscent of Southern states of the USA. We get there and we need to wait for a table, so we have a glass of Rioja as we wait for our table to be ready. Pretty soon, the gorgeous host (who is an absolute sweetheart), gives us a yell, with the news that we have secured a spot, overlooking the wharf!
2012 Cullen ‘Mangan’ (Merlot/Malbec), Margaret River, Western Australia
The wine we choose is from WA (lets face it I’m a little biased of my home state, so I bypass all the other lovely Spanish varietals). Its from the same vineyard as the Cullen Diana Madeleine Cabernet Merlot that Qantas serve on their flights to London (see my trip report here).
The bottle is opened and the waft of plum light floral aromas pierces the air which provides the perfect introduction to this wine. When the wine flows from the beautiful glasses onto ones tongue, the beautiful rich fruity flavours with dense plum and cherry flavours together with the supporting soft tannins permeate the palate. There are also some lovely hints of spice and pepper, which make this wine perfect for a BBQ setting. It’s such a lovely start to the evening.
Smoked eel and quark dip, avruga, samphire, shallot cracker
This dish is divine. It’s creativity at its best. The dip is smooth, silky, smoky with the distinct oily eel flavour evident. The smoothness of the dip is stamped with the distinct sea salty taste of the avruga caviar, while the shallot crackers act as nice crunchy base for the dip. It’s the perfect start to the evening. When the plate is empty, you can almost hear your heart completely shatter into pieces.
Grilled southern calamari – sorrel, sour cream, crispy potato, dill
The tender succulent calamari is full of flavour and dusted with a light crummy coating and paired with some tangy sour cream to add a light richness and bite to the dish. The crispy potatoes (moist fluffy potato on the inside encased in a delightful crunchy outer coating) pair beautifully with the rest of the ingredients to add some additional texture to a classic dish.
Scampi and scallop sashimi, rhubarb, buttermilk, jalapeño, quinoa
The scampi and the scallop are an illustration of what simplicity can do for a dish. When you have world class ingredients, who cares about the rest. The beautiful sweet meat of the scampi and scallop fall apart on my tongue releasing the full array of ocean flavours. The rhubarb, jalapeño and quinoa are just irrelevant for a dish which is all about the seafood stars.
This dish reminds me of an old saying from Alain Ducasse (His restaurant in London has 3 Michellin stars – check out my review here). Alain said “the product is the only truth. A turbot without a stroke of genius is better than a genius without turbot.” Yes, the buttermilk and jalapeño does play some role in extenuating the flavours… but the real star, truth, the signature, the heart, the object of your desire and your imagination in this dish are the scampi and scallops.
Smoked Wagyu Brisket
This dish is why we are here! The beautiful, succulent, with the distinct juices of the wagyu brisket is preserved inside the firm charcoal outer coating. The charcoal outer coating adds a light smokiness to the wagyu. The juices of the wagyu are full of the distinct wagyu flavour. The tender nature of the brisket provides an amazing dining experience. I do pair it with a bit of the smoked BBQ sauce for some light additional flavour, but the wagyu really just stands on its own.
Tennessee-style hot fish sandwich, cornmeal crusted fish, spicy tartare, lettuce, pickles, soft bun
The fish sandwich is amazing (as usual)! I won’t go over the dish again I reviewed last time I was here (see the review here).
The sides are lovely… and offer a nice pairing with the mains. The coleslaw is nice, but I would have to say the curly fries are amazing… soft crunchy and golden on the outside, with a delicate moist fluffy potato experience on the inside.
The food’s amazing, the wine decadent, the company perfect, the view amazing. We continue to stick around and polish off the wine. After we have finished dinner we catch-up with a couple of girls and continue with drinks before kicking-on the Manly Wharf Bar for a final drink before calling it a night. Manly is such a beautiful place and Papi Chulo would be one of best places in Manly.